Forrester Research's Josh Bernoff released an interesting report about the trust factor associated with corporate blogs, or, rather, the lack of trust in corporate blogs, which ranked below even personal blogs and social network profiles in people's perceptions. Ouch. Bernoff found:
"Corporate blogs rank at the bottom of the trust scale with only 16% of online consumers who read them saying that they trust them. Furthermore, the consumers who say they trust these blogs are the most likely to trust all other sources of information."
Bernoff also noted that people don't trust large companies, which some see as another form of "The Man," so why would they suck up the information in blogs? Good point.
For example, Google today put out a press release trumpeting its 2008 global zeitgeist. It's Dec. 10. The last press release prior to this one? Exactly one week ago today, Dec. 3.
One would expect this paucity of PR in a failing or soon-to-be-sold startup, but to have one or two press releases per week from a company of Google's size and market capitalization is staggering. Most companies would suffer from curdle, wither and die because of such silence. Not Google.
That's right, for those who didn't know, Google has a multichanneled blog structure, featuring weekly posts from Google's Search, AdWords and Enterprise businesses, as well as posts from more niche factions such as Google Retail Advertising, Google Book Search and Google. Google even has a student blog.
As someone who follows Google regularly, I have to be careful about what to soak up and write about from Google's blog network.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I find most of the search, ad and applications blogs to be full of subtle back-patting and sly boasts. See the zeitgeist blog post from Google's search queen Marissa Mayer, which complements the press release.
Conversely, Google's Gmail blog tends to feature posts from programmers, not marketing people, so the information is lean, matter-of-fact and generally devoid of hyperbole. Note this recent post about Gmail's new task manager tool.
Whether news is loaded with puffery or sans bluster is not so much a factor in whether I cover it, but how florid the tone and diction are definitely affects how vigilant I am in reporting it.
So, I can understand Bernoff's findings, though I also agree with ReadWriteWeb's Richard MacManus, who says the corporate blogs question isn't so black and white. We, as journalists and bloggers, need to be sharp-eyed as we cover companies that actually situate their public relations material in blogs.